Coaches Corner: Kangaroo Court

By: Austin Alexander-January 8, 2006

I was sitting in the first base dugout recently as one of our hitters exited the field. Upon entering the dugout, he tripped over some shin guards that lie in his path and stumbled down the steps before re-gaining his footing, meanwhile, sharing a laugh with the teammates who saw his mishap. At that point, I dropped in, “That’ll cost him some points in Kangaroo Court!”

In return, I got nothing but blank stares!

Immediately I realized they had just heard a term for the first time and had no clue what I was referring to.

Kangaroo Court penalties can take on many faces. Its definition in The Dickson Baseball Dictionary is as follows: A clubhouse session in which a player assesses guilt and fines for errors and omissions, normally on the field.

By now you’ve probably been able to deduce that one form of it may include a clumsy moment that we have all experienced at least once in our life. Maybe a player trips, perhaps it was walking to the plate with a donut on his bat, going to the on deck circle without a helmet will also do the trick. Forget your spikes or wear the wrong uniform top and you’ll be called on the carpet!

Kangaroo Court will also reside over a first baseman that forgets to throw the ball around the horn, an outfielder that tracks down out number two and then advances toward the dugout. A catcher who rolls strike two back to the mound on his way off the field is also in violation.

Kangaroo Court is in session when a player fails to get a sacrifice bunt down, a cut-off man is missed or if a hitter is unsuccessful in advancing a runner from 2nd to 3rd with no outs. Arrive late for batting practice, fall asleep during a meeting or miss a bus, you’ll pay the price.

In most professional organizations, players may be levied fines for the last group of examples. Many college programs have their older players monitor the silly and brainless things a baseball player will do, usually ending is some form of light hazing or humiliation for the perpetrator.

Kangaroo Court can be a fun way to make light of the awkward moments that will happen over the course of a season, it can also serve as the perfect route to police the discipline of a ballclub. Either way, it is a phrase that has spanned baseball’s existence and now your understanding of its meaning puts you "in the baseball know."